Sunday, March 13, 2011

College Writing

Continuing with yesterday's topic, I did a lot of writing in college, too. I stopped writing poetry and moved towards short stories.  At one point, I wrote a short story every week.

Mostly, though, I wrote plays. This is because I got an English minor by going through the playwriting sequence.  I have about forty to fifty different plays from that time period, and they're all less than ten pages.

Then, something horrible happened.

I took English 20--Introduction to Literary Criticism--and I completely lost my ability to understand literature.  Suddenly, metaphors were stripped of all meaning.  And themes?  I don't even know what themes are.  From what I can tell, the professor decides what the story means.  Then he reads the story and pretends that his meaning fits it perfectly.  I'm on to you, Professor.  I know you're just making things up as you go along.

But then when I asked all the other English-y people, they couldn't explain things either. I mean, they were good English majors, so they knew that Shakespeare is awesome.  But they couldn't really explain why.  I think it has something to do with metaphors.

And metaphors are where the words in the book mean something completely different from what they mean, right?  I still don't get it.

Anyway, that pretty much ended my English career.  I used to be able to understand themes and metaphors and subtext.  Now, it seems like these are things people make up out of nowhere, and I can't enjoy the books I liked reading when I was in high school.  And I can't understand any of the metaphors I used in my poems, either.  It's a really weird experience to read something I wrote that used to make so much sense, and now it seems like complete nonsense.

The same thing happened when I read Descartes.  The first time I read his work, it made perfect sense, and he was a genius.  And when I re-read it six months later, it was all confusing and ridiculous.  I don't know what happened to cause this complete reversal.


Grace Amanda said...

As an English major in university, I think I understand where you're coming from. Sometimes I'll read a book for a class and feel like I know what's going on, and then my prof will come up with something completely different. (But, of course, his way is the right way, regardless of how subjective English is supposed to be.)

I also write a lot of short stories, and I've noticed that when I look back on my older stories, I have to wonder what was going through my head at the time when I wrote it. Funny how things like that work, eh?

Anonymous said...

I would be very annoyed to have a professor like that. Sometimes a story doesn't not need to be psycho-analyzed to understand its meaning. Sometimes things are not metaphorical. I tend to enjoy the most simple of stories, which might be why I tend to read children's books. They're not all artsy-farsty. Children simply want a story, and they want a good one.

Being a reading and writing homeschooled person, I am thankfully able to choose my own curriculum. After I completed this course called the One Year Adventure Novel, I understood stories, I understood conflict, I understood morality in a story context. Morality (I think) is something college courses rarely touch on, and if they do, it's all wishy washy nonsense because they have no standard for morality. I'm sorry if I sound like a commercial, but I really, really, like the One Year Adventure Novel curriculum, and anyone who desires to learn concrete skills in structuring stories should check it out. Here's the link:

Marjorie Turner said...

Nice read! It seems to me that the most crucial factor would be to write and read around you are able to, like you did. It'll give an awareness of the things makes good writing and it'll enlarge the vocabulary. Perform an essay writing, it's a great way to help inspire learning and boost critical thinking among learners.